Below is an excerpt from Courtney’s first column in Muscle Car Power:
A lot of you may already know me, but for those who don’t, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Courtney Halowell and I am indeed a guy, though the first name does elicit some confusion, especially for people sending me email or leaving voicemail messages. The second I see or hear “Ms. Halowell” I usually hit the delete button out of habit— just fair warning if you’re trying to get a hold of me.
I have been in the automotive publishing business since 1992. I got my start working for the truck group at McMullen and Yee Publishing under Steve Stillwell. I bounced around wherever I was needed, and then Brian McCormick, Steve Stillwell and I left and went to work for Y-Visionary Publishing to start Street Trucks Magazine. After about six years I went to work for an Internet-based enthusiast publication, then a traditional publishing house again, before I received the call to come work at Beckett Media producing World of Rods Magazine.
I did that for a couple of years and was recently moved over to take the reins on Muscle Car Power. I may be the new guy on the magazine that you all know and love, but I am far from new to the publishing industry or the automotive aftermarket. In fact, I have been around cars, trucks, motorcycles, go-karts and just about anything with wheels my entire life, thanks to my dad and his constant tinkering in the garage.
• Hot Bike and Mini Truckin’ Magazines 1992-99
• Street Trucks Magazine 1999-05
• The Enthusiast Network and TEN Trucks Magazine 2005-06
• Editorial Director – Street Chopper, Hot Bike and Baggers Magazines 2007-08
• World of Rods, Muscle Car Power and DRIVE! Magazines 2009-11
For information on services and donations, please visit Courtneyhalowell.com (http://www NULL.courtneyhalowell NULL.com)
“We have become part of something much more complicated than you or I will ever fully comprehend. We build more than just trucks, we build friendships, we build futures, we build our dreams. We drive our trucks low and hold our heads high because we have an unwritten and unspoken agreement that we will live life to the fullest and never fall victim to the norm. Others laugh at us when we spend hours on end working on our trucks, yet shake our hands when we are done.”
14 years ago, I wrote the words that inspired an entire movement, but Courtney “Tito” Halowell lived a life that did. Courtney lived the life that inspired the words I wrote— the very life you and I have lived.
I woke up this morning atop a pile of old Mini Truckin’ Magazines. My eyes still swollen, a lump so big in my throat I can barely speak and a hole in my heart the size of my brother and best friend, Tito.
I owe you for my very existence, my friend, and only those people close enough to the truth will understand what that means.
I’ve been crying off and on now for weeks. Then suddenly it hit me, I’m not crying because I’m sad, I’m crying because I’m one of the lucky few who knew Courtney as a friend. I’m one of the few who ever heard him sing his song.
I met Courtney after I went to work for Mini Truckin’ Magazine back in 1995. He introduced himself to me by sneaking up behind me in my office, pulling his T-shirt over my head and trapping me against his belly while shaking me around. It was summer. I would later remember that introduction as shocking, unique, stimulating… and moist.
He worked for Hot Bike Magazine at the time and shared the office adjacent to mine. No matter the time of day, or where he was at in his production schedule, he always made himself available to answer my questions, helping me learn the ropes in the publishing business.
Years later, when he was tasked with the editorship of Mini Truckin’, he asked me to come along and help, and so I spent a couple of seasons traveling with him to shows across the nation. What struck me about Courtney was his level of enthusiasm and his willingness to take time out of our chaotic show schedule to talk with everyone at the venue. And then, of course, Courtney could often be found at the center of the after-hours mayhem.
In all of the years that I knew Courtney, I never heard him preach the gospel, but I often saw him demonstrate it through his unconditional love. This was part of his song.
I worked closely with Courtney for years and even helped him, Brian and Steve with the launch of Street Trucks Magazine. We were so close for so many years, and then, one day, I woke up to find that we were miles apart following a simple lane change.
And though I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for not staying closer to him throughout the years, when I first learned of his passing, I know that Courtney understood that life happens. Evidence of his understanding can be found in the last note that he posted on his Facebook page after learning of the passing of his good friend Dennis.
“We all get caught up in our lives and get ‘busy,’ but the past 19 years have seemed to go by in a flash. Maybe this is a wakeup call to spend more time with the people I care about. You know, before the clock runs out…”
Strangers, I cannot tell you how hard these words of his hit me as I was surfing his profile after learning of his passing. On one hand, he let me off the hook by understanding. And on the other, if I had just read that note a little sooner.
Today, many of us will share stories of how Courtney inspired us, but the question we should be asking is, “What inspired Courtney?” Another clue left behind on his FB page under “religious views,” Courtney lists “the church of Kirk Jones.”
I Googled Kirk Jones to get a better sense of Courtney’s reference and found this in his mission statement, “Inspire others to embrace their spiritual energy, thereby unleashing a new and dynamic creative power. Such empowerment is not limited to the ‘few and the favored’—it is the birthright of all as children of God.”
So there you have it, Strangers, clear as day, Courtney realized long ago that life goes on after death. He knew that you cannot take the custom vehicles and tools and other cool stuff out of this world, but you can take your friends if you inspire them to understand. This was also part of his song.
We can see pictures of Tito’s garage and his many projects strewn atop his workbench and his catalogues of published works. But those things are all left behind as clues and an invitation to understand something more.
In the world we live in, where our egos are as hard as our rides, we all tend to think that we’ll go out in a blaze of glory. But the truth is, Strangers, sometimes you simply go to sleep and never wake up. We cannot choose the time and place unless we are cowards and quit early, but that’s never been our style, has it?
The truth of the matter is that in the world we live in, we keep our foot on the gas and our eyes fixed on the road directly ahead, bearing in mind the potholes. And we rarely slow down or air up long enough to allow ourselves to look farther ahead toward the horizon. But today, Courtney is inviting all of us to look farther ahead.
You never know when the next person you meet is going to turn out to be your best friend or be such an inspiration in your life—or you in theirs.
You never know what your last words will be, so make every word count.
You never know who your last friend will be, so make every friend count.
You never know what your last project will be, so make every project count.
You never know what your last day will be, so make every day count.
You never know what your last act will be, so make every act count.
You never know when your last breath will be, so make every breath count.
You never know who your last love will be, so make every love count.
You never know what your last impression will be, so make every impression count.
You never know when your last goodbye will be, so make every goodbye count.
You never know when your last song will be, so make every song count.
We don’t live in a world of chance, we live according to a plan, one that we can hear the words of, if we stop and sit in silence long enough. We live in a world of perfect design and build. Does anyone believe that this world is by chance? Does anyone believe that if we left our garages open long enough that the perfect parts to the perfect car would collect there and assemble themselves?
Today we are observing the legacy Courtney left behind. We aren’t celebrating him for the vehicles he built; we’re celebrating him for the relationships he built along the way. And in the end, that is all he took with him, isn’t it? The garage and everything in it was left behind.
These friendships, these memories, this inspiration, this is Courtney’s song. This song is what he sang at the top if his lungs every minute of every day. And if you listen long enough you can still hear him singing.
Don’t go to the grave with your music still inside you. Play it loud and often so that others may sing long after you are gone.
That is what Courtney did for all of us.
And I am forever grateful, friend.
Your friend in eternity,
They say that you can tell a lot about a man by the friends he keeps. Courtney gained many close friends over the years, and it is only fitting that he is remembered for the good times, laughs and stories told. –PQ
Excerpt from Local Finesse: Roads To Ruin, a book completely inspired by Wyatt Strange and Mini Truckin’ diary.
WHITE TRASH BBQ
One day Tito came up with this great idea for a BBQ. What started as a joke ended up being one of the greatest theme parties of my life.
We were going to have a White Trash BBQ and invite everyone from NC, Severed Ties and Local Finesse. We figured since most of the people we knew were pretty much white trash anyway, it wouldn’t be a stretch for anyone to put in a little more effort. There were seven of us associated with the house: Tito, the Captain, DollaBill, myself (The TallGuy), Parker (the Captain’s something-or-other), AndraPants (Dollabill’s girlfriend), and Lesli (the rad broad I was dating).
We all went out and hit the local thrift stores to put together some great looks for the event. The boys pretty much pulled shit out of their closets except for a NASCAR T-shirt and a trucker hat (before they were fashionable). The girls, however, went pretty big. Lesli rolled the spandex shorts and an airbrushed ‘Florida or Bust’ T-shirt. To top everything off she gave herself a black eye with make up. It was awesome.
Parker came with crimped hair and a football jersey.
The week prior to the party Tito and I decided to grow Fu Manchus. We grew out full mustaches which connected with our goatees and the Friday morning before the party I carved in the Fu Manchu and went to work that way. The people in the office kept complimenting it and I had to explain the reason for my new facial grooming. Once I explained the concept of the White Trash BBQ, it was all, ‘Dude, we wanna come.’
I gave everyone the flyer and told them to come on down. The Captain decided to puss out on the Fu Manchu, which sucked because he’s a hairy Italian and would have had the best one ever. It’s not like it wouldn’t have grown out by the end of the weekend anyway. Like I said, the boy could grow facial hair, crooked as it might be.
When we went shopping for the BBQ, it was bargain basement everything. We bought all store brand products in bulk and the cheapest beer we could possibly find. PBR would have been like drinking Newcastle. I think we paid like five or six bucks for a 12 pack of cans. It was horseshit beer. We had boxed wine and store brand half gallons of alcohol. We were trying to find someone who could get government cheese but had no such luck. You would think with this amount of rejects, someone would know someone on the government dole, but no dice.
It’s crazy. Whenever we had a party at that house it literally looked like a car show was happening in front and a block in each direction. ‘Bagged and body-dropped minis and full sizes, ‘60s Cadillacs, full race pre-runners, skyed Tahoes. I think Big Dumb Chad even trailered his body-dropped, blown Pathfinder. It was nuts the shit that would end up in front of our house during these events.
DollaBill stepped up the game and opted to have Tito carve him out a mohawk right in the middle of the driveway. It was on from there. A line formed and Tito was cutting mohawks and bi-hawks in the driveway. If I didn’t have a job that required me to be in front of customers that bought hundreds of thousands of dollars in office furnishings, I would have been down for a new hairdo.
Alex Anderson stepped in the cutting circle when Tito was apparently tired of cutting the same haircut. He decided to invent the skull-de-sac. This is where the top of your head is shaved, leaving a horizontal strip around the back.
As the day went on one of my coworkers, Bryan, and his fiancée showed up. I was well on my way to getting trashed on low rent alcohol and they brought more boxed wine and their friend Harley so he could grasp the insanity that was our friends. Within two shots and four bottles of Guinness, he came running into the backyard where I was talking to his other half with a freshly cut Fu Manchu.
“Tito just gave me a Fu Manchu!”
I was so proud of Bryan.
As the party wound down and we ran out of dirt alcohol. (I can’t believe we actually drank it all as head in a vise hangovers were not only expected in the morning, but guaranteed.) We decided it was time to go to the bar, as if we weren’t drunk enough.
Question: How do you get 25 drunks to the bar?
Answer: Easy. You tell ArrghhFinnegan that you’re taking his motorhome.
Who is ArrghhFinnegan? He was in Severed Ties. He had moved out to Cali from New York with his girlfriend Julie to pursue a career at Mini Truckin’ Magazine. They came out in their motorhome, and since they didn’t have a residence, they lived in the motorhome in front of our house. Twenty-five of us piled into their relatively small motorhome with drinks in hand and headed over to the Canyon Inn.
We pulled the motorhome in the parking lot behind the bar and we all filed out. I’m sure the bouncers (who loved us already) were thrilled. We all walked to the back door with our infamous red cups in hand and were told we couldn’t take them in. We slammed down the remaining alcohol and walked in, minors included, as IDs were not checked. I had the presence of mind to grab my camera before we left to document the adventures at the bar. If what went down at the house was any indication of what the bar would be like, holy shit.
Jafo’s jeans were ripped at the back pockets so Tito stuck his hands in the holes and pulled straight down to the floor. Instead of Jafo’s pants coming down, since they were belted, Tito basically created jean chaps for Jafo. Tito had torn his jeans in a line right down both legs. Jafo walked around the bar in jean chaps for the rest of the night. He had boxers on, but somewhere during the evening he lost those.
This might have been the first night that Daddy (Brett) blew fire on top of the bar. He would climb up and stand on the bar, take a shot of 151, and light and blow a fire ball inside the bar.
The bartenders called last call. The house lights went on and the bouncers were ushering us out while we were trying to put our drinks in our pockets and walk them outside. We pilled back into the motorhome and headed home. As the ancient, decrepit Winnebago turned off of Orangethorpe and onto Concerto, it died. We had 10 drunks yelling and screaming and pushing a motorhome down a residential street. I’m sure our neighbors loved us.
I woke to what had to be the worst hangover in existence. I must be spoiled from drinking Crown because shots of Stater Bros. vodka and Reichmeister beer are brutal in the morning.
All in all, the White Trash BBQ was a total success and well worth the pain that resided in my head the next day.
Thank you, Courtney. I love you.
-Robert “Tallguy” Kamalski
It is tough to come up with the words to explain how much Courtney has done for so many people. He was an icon but he was always quick to lend a hand or help give you an in with this guy or that guy. Not that I’m anywhere really, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without Courtney’s help and guidance that started with Monster Garage, Driveshaft and grew from there. Chances are I would be asking, ‘You want fries with that?’ if it weren’t for him. He did so much for so many.
One of the great stories I always tell is the time Courtney gave me a reverse mohawk at the white trash BBQ in the driveway at his house. The plan was for someone to get a mohawk, a reverse mohawk a and sideways mohawk. DollaBill got the mohawk from Courtney. I stepped up for the reverse Mohawk because I knew everyone else was too pussy to get it done. We continued the party like that, and went to the bar afterwards like that, as well. Back at the house, Brett tried to give me a massive wedgie, but I stopped him, holding onto my underwear like my life depended on it with both of my hands. The result was Brett got a chunk of my underwear and ripped it away. I took my underwear off, kept tearing it and put it in Captain’s pillow. I knew I would have trouble explaining my missing underwear and reverse mohawk to my wife the next morning, so I had Tito clean it up and shave the rest of my head to lessen the blow.
He will never be forgotten or replaced.
-Alex “AA” Anderson
Where do I begin? Maybe with, in the 20 plus years I’ve known Courtney, he called me at least 40 times for wheels, but always on behalf of a club member or friend that needed a little extra help to finish his truck. Or maybe with his trips to Colorado where he always wanted to go to the plywood-walled Gentlemen’s Club. Good times there. Or how about our cross-country trips in one of his projects to support an event. Or how he said he’d pay me double after I told him the payment I needed when his dogs ‘ate’ my car while chasing a squirrel. Wow.
No, my favorite story was one from a couple of years ago. I was living in a big old house by myself. My son had recently moved out on his own. Courtney said he needed a roommate to make ends meet. I said okay, I guess it’s time for a change. I gave him a deposit and continued to pay rent for about 6 months. Finally, Courtney had enough of that. I was out of town on the East Coast when my phone rang. It was Courtney. ‘Hey man, I’m at your house with a trailer and a tow truck. Where are the keys to your cars?’ Surprised, I asked why. Courtney said, ‘I’m stealing your cars. They will be in our garage when you ever decide to get off your ass and come finish some of the things you started. And besides, I miss you, man.’ Well, I moved in with Courtney the next month. We had a lot of good times cuttin’ up Kermit to build the ‘53 to its current state. I loved Courtney like a brother. I miss him everyday. He truly was a legend, but he never acted like it. Way too humble for that. Rest in peace, friend.
-Bill Hancock, Colorado Custom
So it was a Reso many years ago. I started drinking Friday afternoon and proceeded to drink for 26 hours straight. When I had finally had enough to put me down, I crawled into bed inside the motorhome. I am not sure how long I had been out before I was woken very abruptly by the sensation of somebody prying my mouth open and stuffing in a Cheeto. I opened my eyes to see Tito standing before me with a big bag of Cheetos in one arm and a bag of Fritos in the other. Before I knew what had happened Tito was stuffing a Frito in my mouth. He looked at me and pointed to the first bag. ‘Cheeto.’ Then pointed to the second bag, ‘Frito.’ Then poked himself in the chest and said, ‘Tito.’ He then proceeded to put another Cheeto in my mouth. ‘Cheeto.’ Then followed closely with a Frito. ‘Frito,’ he yelled. Followed by another poke to his chest, ‘Tito.’ He did this over and over again, more rapidly with every rotation, until he had reached the point where he could no longer fit another chip in my mouth. Then he just turned and left, leaving me with my cheeks stuffed to the gills with salty and cheesy goodness, but too drunk to get a drink to wash it all down.
-Brett “Daddy” Oakes
I know I have said this a few times before, but working with Courtney at Street Trucks was always an adventure. It always seemed that the Captain was ahead of us on road trips, and on the way to Heat Wave especially, we would try to catch him. Courtney would drive all night just to say we got there first. One night on the way back, I was driving through Phoenix and there was construction going on. Flashing speed limit signs read 55 mph. Courtney was asleep, but he woke up, looked at me, and asked why I was driving so slowly. I said, ‘Construction zone, Courtney.’ Courtney gave me my nickname then, in the middle of the night in Phoenix. He even called the Captain and said, ‘Bob Hase has a nickname, Captain.’ The Captain asked what it was. ‘Double Nickel.’ The Captain asked why Double Nickel and Courtney replied that it was because cars were passing us, and ‘He’s doing 55.’ So every time I saw Courtney or the Captain after that they called me Double Nickel.
I was talking to Courtney after the last time I returned from Tex Mex. He said, ‘I hear you went to Tex Mex.’ I told him that I had. He said, ‘So, Double Nickel, who drove?’ I told him that I had and he laughed. ‘Did you leave six days early?’ I told him no, I actually got up to 85 mph this time around. Courtney looked at me and said, ‘No way, Double Nickel.’ I sure do miss those all-night drives, talking about nothing important and just hanging out. I will cherish the nickname that I got from Courtney, and I will never forget that night in Phoenix.
-Bob “Double Nickel” Hase
Courtney Halowell was an exceptional writer, talented photographer, knowledgeable mentor, one-of-a-kind comedian and someone that inspired me to do things in my personal life as well as for my website that I may never have otherwise tried. I spent many weekends traveling with him to car shows all over the country as well as many days and nights hanging out with him when he lived just a couple of streets away from me. He had a great outlook on life and knew how to live it without fear, hate or regrets, and most of all he knew how to have fun no matter what he’s going through. I can only hope that when I am gone I am remembered fondly by a small fraction of the people who remember him.
When I first started Socalcustoms.com, I asked him countless times for advice. He shared his years of experience with a kid who asked him all kinds of questions that most people would have been annoyed by. In fact, just last year I asked him what he thought about starting a blog on the website and what direction I should go with it. As always, he gave me insight, advice and most of all, motivation. He always knew that people in the custom automotive scene looked up to him, but he never presented any ego or attitude about what can only be described as his celebrity status among all of the people who read his numerous articles and viewed his photography in the many magazines he worked for over the past two decades.
Since his passing, it has become more apparent than ever before that he was literally a friend to everyone he ever met. From waitresses at restaurants we ate at, all the way up to big name fabricators like Jesse James, he treated everyone with respect, dignity and kindness.
He may be gone but his impact on me, my website and thousands of other custom automotive enthusiasts will live on for many years to come. His lessons and personality will be engrained in me and my family forever.
I will miss his smile, his timely advice, his talent, his leadership, his stories and most of all I will miss the idea that there is someone out there that I aspire to be like.
Rest in peace my friend.
SoCalCustoms.com (http://www NULL.SoCalCustoms NULL.com)
After almost 10 years of friendship, I find it hard to narrow down just one memory or story to share. So, I’ll do my best to describe to those who never met such an amazing person, how easy it was for one man to change SO many lives and greatly shape our entire custom automotive industry. Courtney ‘Tito’ Halowell was this one man for me. From the very first day we shook hands, even though I was in awe and still a newb, he took me under his wing and shared every bit of publishing knowledge he had. It poured out every time there was a question. No hesitation, no trade secrets of photography, just pure, genuine help. Eventually the mentorship grew into friendship as the years passed. The nicest, most humble person was somehow also the MOST IMPORTANT person to hit the truck industry. Editor of countless magazines and founder of Street Trucks magazine, Courtney left his mark on this world, and all we can do now is keep his contagious smile and friendship spreading! Love those closest to you; life is way too short to take them for granted.
To quote Thomas Wolfe, ‘I was sustained by one piece of inestimable good fortune. I had for a friend, a man of immense and patient wisdom and a gentle but unyielding fortitude. I think that if I was not destroyed at this time by the sense of hopelessness, which these gigantic labors had awakened in me, it was largely because of the courage and patience of this one man. I did not give in because he would not let me give in.’ This really hits home for my career in publishing, and even now pushes me to return to the industry. Everything Tito did for the sport, the entire industry and me will never be forgotten! He will live on through us! <>NC<>
When I first got into the truck scene about 10 years ago all I knew about Courtney was that he wrote for my favorite mag, Street Trucks. As I continued to get more involved in the scene I learned more about him, and I thought that this guy had it all. When I actually met him, I found out that he was very different than I expected. He was very easygoing, funny, warm-hearted and willing to give me a few pointers on contributing to this mag.
I was surprised to hear that he lived only five minutes away from me, and that meant I would come over to hang out all the time. Soon enough we were taking road trips to distant shows, and they were some of the best times we had together. That year he introduced me to Texas Heatwave, western wear and Rudy’s BBQ. The name El Super Tejano came up one night when he kept making jokes about me buying a cowboy hat during my first trip to Austin. We were ready to catch some shut-eye, but he kept going on and I kept laughing.
Later on, he got word of an opening at Sport Truck and passed the info to me. Because of what he taught me, I ended up scoring the position as feature editor there while he shuffled around a few different titles. In that time, we always stayed in contact, and he even did me the favor of snapping the pics for my wedding. Though I no longer work full-time at a mag, I owe all of my experiences and good times to him. My life would truly not be the same if I had not met him. He was not only a friend, but also a mentor and even felt like an extended family member. It’s still shocking to know that he is gone and that I won’t see him again or go on another adventure with him. I think about Courtney everyday and will miss him for the rest of my life.
-Kevin “El Super Tejano” Aguilar
Here I am on my first day in Iceland and I’m walking around the streets around my apartment. I spot a building that has “TITO” on it in great big black letters. So I snap a picture and post it to Facebook and tag Courtney. He comments, “LOL, I guess somebody in Iceland is a fan.” Then less than 24 hours later he was gone.
-Dan “Professor” Novatnak
Trying to put into words what Tito meant to me, hell, what he meant to everybody. Images of road trips, conversations, emails and text messages have been filling my head the last few weeks. What do I share? To be honest, I’ve been really stingy with sharing my memories. Only because most of the ones I hold close to my heart were conversations where a single word he said summed up everything I needed to hear. He was funny that way.
Of course I have funny stories. When Brett was building his F-150, he would get a bit grumpy as the nights went on. So Tito decided we needed to go to Pep Boys and find some ‘stuff to cheer him up.’ What can you find at Pep Boys to cheer someone up with? Well, let’s see, how bout a key chain with a picture of someone else’s kid on it? Or a DVD copy of the classic movie Heidi? Canadian air freshener? Beef jerky and cheese snacks would surely cheer him up! $50 later and Brett couldn’t help but smile. Who wouldn’t with all those thoughtful gifts?
For about six months or so, I answered his calls with, ‘Are you nekkid?’ He would ignore me and go on with whatever it was he had called me about. Until one day he said, ‘As a matter of fact I am!’ I didn’t answer the phone that way anymore.
Most of his phone calls (to me) started out, ‘Jason motherf@$kin Johnson!’
About once a month or so, he would call and sing the entire first verse of ‘Tie My Pecker to My Leg’ by Mojo Nixon at the top of lungs! What I wouldn’t give to hear that one more time.
The best times were spent working on something with him. Our last project together was the floors in the ‘53. We started by drilling all the holes to spot weld the new stuff in. That was entirely too much work. We decided to head down to Harbor Freight and find a hole punch. Now you and I would go in, buy the punch and get back to our project. Not Courtney. He talked up the chick who was selling the discount memberships. Had her show us a bunch of junk we didn’t need then said, ‘Naw, I don’t need a membership. I don’t buy enough here.’ Then proceeded to the check out with his hole punch.
After all that, it was definitely time for lunch. To know Courtney is to know he loved a good rolled taco and carne asada burrito. And those damn peppers at the salsa bar he talked me into every time; I can still feel the burn! By now we were late into the afternoon, so we got busy welding stuff in and taking pictures. Things went smoothly and I told him I needed to head home. ‘Let me take you to dinner for helping,’ he said. I was still full from lunch!
Like I mentioned earlier, I have a lot of good memories and conversations that I don’t think I’m ready to share yet. I’m sorry. I will say this, I am REALLY glad I got to know more than ‘the guy with a camera.’ He was a big part of my family and his passing has left a hole in my heart that nobody could ever come close to filling. I wish I could find the words to make this healing process easier on everyone, but I keep coming back to only one that describes him to a tee.
I know this goodbye is just temporary. Until we meet again, my friend, I love you.
-Jason “motherf@$kin” Johnson!
We look up to guys like you, the guys that paved the way. You were wrenching on trucks before I could even drive. You were featured before I had a truck. You helped bring the community together by helping bring one of the best clubs in the world together. More importantly, you were the kind of guy that made us laugh, you were the kind of guy that made us feel welcomed everywhere you were. I always looked up to you.
I’ll never forget the night you came to my house to get a bench seat out of a piece-of-crap ‘66 Ford at my house. It was infested with spiders, but you didn’t give a crap, you were a car guy. The day we shot my ‘50 Chevy in San Diego is one of the most fun days I can remember. You were a hell of a tour guide.
You told me that night I could keep anything I wanted at your house, and I knew you meant it. You weren’t just trying to be nice; you were being a good friend.
When I got my lucha libre Jesus tattoo, the first person I texted with the finished photo was you, and I told you it was for you. I knew you’d dig it, and you did.
You taught me about low-light photos and when to use a filter, but more important, you taught me that friends are more than back windows. RIP, Tito. We will miss you.
There are so many memories of my good friend Courtney, but I would like a to share a quote at the end of an article he wrote back in 1998 about the shenanigans of myself and my Severed Ties and Negative Camber brothers that he saw at Spring Splash,’Until next time, kids, drive low, eat right, be wary of the guy behind you, speed up when you see road flares, and always, always, always groove with a ferret in your trousers.’ I will miss you, Tito, until we meet again. Your friend Richarotchie, or as you would say, Itchiecrotchie.
-Rich “Richarotchie” Pugner
My first real memory of Courtney was at a 2000 car show in Laughlin, Nevada. Some good friends got stranded on a boat and he was trying to get the Indian nation to locate them because we thought they had floated downstream to the reservation. Later that weekend, he warned me and several of the Severed Ties guys that the cops were looking for us and to just get hidden. Good call, brother.
That weekend led to a long friendship I will remember for a lifetime, and it made me the unofficial driver for Courtney at every show we attended together. I would drive him on the feature rolling shots because, ‘Ronnie, you can’t get a ticket.’
Miss you, buddy.
Courtney came over on the night of Thanksgiving 2009. He brought me a bottle of Tito’s vodka. He said, ‘I don’t know how good it is, but hey, something named Tito has to be good, right?’ We played Rockband for hours. My son and Courtney shared drum duty and the rest of us filled in with the remaining instruments. We played for hours. As we sat exhausted on the couch, he leaned over and said, ‘Please don’t sing anymore, how bout we just watch a movie?’ My mom still reminds me of that every time I go to sing on Rockband.
That same year we also went to Route 66 together in his truck. It was so dang hot, we hung out in the beer garden for most of the day. We made friends with the staff and some locals and made a huge party of it. Although sweat-drenched and stinky, it was one of the best times with him.
We also did a photo shoot in his garage for Burly Brand. I think we maybe got four photos where we weren’t all laughing hysterically from our own silliness. That’s how my times with him went—laughing, loving friends.
I called him when I needed advice or when I just needed a hug.
Back in 2005, we had just finished our 1998 Frontier. Courtney and I had been in touch about the build since the beginning and he had planned to shoot it for Street Trucks. Along the way I had sent a few pictures here and there, but mostly it was kept quiet. When I got the truck back, it left a lot to be desired. It wasn’t perfect by any means: Many things were left incorrect or not how I wanted, but we decided to take it to Indy Truck Bash that year anyway. I was insecure about doing it, to say the least. We unloaded the truck in our booth at the show, and it wasn’t long before Courtney came walking over while on the phone. I got up and started to walk over to the truck where he was. He said to the person on the phone, ‘I am standing next to the nicest truck I have seen in 5 years.’ That lit me up like a firecracker. Now, anyone that saw my truck at the time would tell you that’s complete BS, but that’s not the point. Courtney would make you feel welcomed, at home and with friends. He had that way about him. That evening, he shot the truck for Street Trucks. Receiving that unwarranted compliment from him at a time where he could tell I needed assurance was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me within this scene.
I never really got to know Courtney as well as many others did, but I knew how much many respected him. I came into the truck scene while I was working as art director and then editor of Tailgate Magazine. Knowing from the beginning that Tailgate never would be at the level of the magazines Courtney worked for, it was like I was in AAA and he was in the major leagues, but he still treated me with respect and was very cool to me on the couple of occasions we did talk. To me, Courtney was the godfather of the scene, and for that I had the ultimate respect for him and never tried to step on his toes or badmouth him in the magazine world. I have since retired from the magazine industry, but I’ve kept in contact with many friends from the scene that were very close to Courtney, so seeing and hearing the effect of his passing, just shows me the amount of love people had for Courtney. His passing also shows what a great character he had and a great influence he had on many people in the scene. Forget about the good and bad from the truck scene, at the end of the day, it’s about your character, how you treat people, and the effect you have on others! May he rest in peace and may the Lord bless him, his family and his friends!
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,
-Gil Luna Jr.
September 1999. Endless Summer, Parker, Arizona. I was lucky enough to have my car featured in Mini Truckin’ Magazine. There were only a handful of cars selected, so this was a huge moment in my life. Mike Self was the photographer and Tito came along for the shoot. I knew who he was, but never formally met him and was nervous because he had been the editor of magazines I had revered for years. Near the end of the session, Courtney came up to me and Mike, gently placed his hand on Mike’s shoulder and with a shy grin and quiet voice simply said, ‘I touch Mike Self. When I think about you, I touch Mike Self.’ Quite possibly, one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard and the start of a decade-plus friendship with the man I now call my brother.
Tito wrote the best article about our show back in, I believe, 2000. He wrote as well as told me that our show brought out a lot of people that do not normally show their faces. That is what inspired me to continue doing the Forbidden Fantasy Show. When I went to get our first place participation trophy at Severed Ties Octoberfest, I looked over and he gave me a thumbs-up. We did not hang out all the time, but it was these memories that stick with me and I will never forget the conversations we had.
Tito was a great guy. When I first got into (NC) years and years ago, he would come and party with us. One night we went to a bar called Club Rio (which closed down) and were having a blast. Some guy started a fight with us, and Tito was trying to stop it, but the bouncer was trying to pick a fight and grabbed Tito. As we all know, Tito was a big guy like me. There were about 15 stairs as we headed out to the parking lot, and Tito rode the fight-starter down the stairs like a surfboard. The guy got up and looked like ‘what happened?’ As we left, the bouncer said sorry and realized he was in the wrong.
Back in May of 1998 in Greenville, this guy approaches me and asks if I’d like to have my truck shot for Mini Truckin’ Magazine. Naturally, I replied, ‘Absolutely!’ That was the day that Courtney Halowell introduced himself to me, a 19-yearold kid, and at the same time made my dreams as a mini-trucker become a reality. Proudly, 14 years later, whether it had been months or a year or so, every time I ran into Courtney at a show he treated me as if we’d been life-long friends. Thanks, Courtney, for the good times and memories and for what you meant to our scene. You will be forever missed.
I first met Tito back in ‘98 at THW. He came up to us and said, ‘Hello there, you guys wanna be on the cover of Mini Truckin’?’ We were like, ‘Hell yeah!’ He said if ya can just hang around I can make it happen for ya’ll, not 10 minutes after that around 20-30 minis are getting lined up. Then with one loud Tito voice while standing in the back of Lonnie’s big Ford he yelled, ‘All right, let’s make this like a show. Everybody fill in like spectators!’ I must have thanked him at least five times for giving me the opportunity to become part of a bigger picture that day! At that moment I experienced a guy that would go out of his way to make sure a lil’ fella such as myself would forever carry the amount of pride, respect and dedication in life and the scene/lifestyle/brotherhood/family that I call //NC\\
-Ronnie “Speedy” Baudoin
At ITB a few years ago, about 8-10 of us, led by Tito, decided to ‘borrow’ a piece of wall art (tin) from an eating establishment. We all huddled up to block the view, while Tito stuck it under his shirt. As we were all walking out, still in the huddle, under the watchful glare of the manager, the tin fell out of his shirt and hit the floor with a huge clatter. We all ran out laughing our heads off.
-Eric “Huggy Bear” Hancock
Courtney taught me how to play Thumper, a drinking game, way back in 1989 when he was in Class Act and I was in Ground Control. I was just walking around the Bakersfield fairgrounds where he and some of his friends hit me up to play this drinking game, and we proceeded to get drunk together. I have been friends with him ever since going to Alberto’s Tacos in SD and running into him at various events. He was the first person to shoot my ‘63 Chevy while it was being built, and the first to take pics of it when it was done. He was very influential to me while I was building my truck and always fun to be around. He will be missed.
Back in ’95, must have been Endless, at the NC camp, with too much jungle juice. My wife decided to let it rip on my leg. Tito looks at her and said, ‘Did you just throw up on Jim?’ She responded, ‘I didn’t throw up, I just coughed.’ Every time he saw her after that he’d stop and say, ‘Please don’t cough on me’ or ‘Watch out, I’m about to cough.’ Reso ‘96. AoN was having some issues and he said go back and save it because it’s a name he didn’t want to see go away. It showed what kind of person he was. He wanted everyone to do well, just not himself or his club. I picked up the Jimbacca name after the WCC show in the late ‘90s. I wore a tank top that day. Back at his old pad with Captain and some others he says, ‘Damn, Jim, you are hairy. That’s it, you are now Jimbacca.’
-Jim “Jimbacca” Bacca
Courtney was always in a good mood and seemed to look to the bright spots in any situation. He will be missed beyond measure. I’m so sorry for his family and wish them comfort in knowing Courtney made this world a little better just by being Courtney. You’ll be missed, brother.
It’s not very often we meet that one person in life who makes an impact on us. That one person who no matter what hand they are dealt makes the best out of it. That one person who’s goal is to inspire and motivate you and everyone around them. That one person who always has a smile and makes you laugh. There are not many of those people in this world. Well, I had the pleasure of meeting that person about eight years ago. His name was Courtney ‘Tito’ Halowell. Courtney didn’t know a stranger. That sounds cliché, but it’s true. The man was a great person who would do anything for anyone. It didn’t matter to him who you were, what you drove or how much money you had. He saw you as a person. It saddens me to say we lost a GREAT man today. It was a total shock to hear. Courtney was so easy to talk to and seemed to always know what to say. He was great at everything he did. Not only as an editor and photographer, but as a motivator to many. To sit back and look at what people are saying about his passing shows what kind of guy he was. Hundreds of people missing him and thanking him for what he has done to change their lives in some shape or form.
Courtney, you will be truly missed and never forgotten. We as a community will forever love you. It saddens me to have to say goodbye. I know I speak for many.
Rest in peace my friend,
Courtney ‘Tito’ Halowell was an amazing friend, photographer, customizer and mentor for me for the 24 years I had the honor of knowing him. I have entirely too many stories to write. So I’ll sum up my friend in my eyes. Always smiling that cheesy tooth-filled grin, loaded with excitement, laughter and the prevailing practical joke, or just flat out payback. You never knew what to expect, just that you should expect something. Holidays and birthdays were always the best because you never knew what was inside that brown paper bag or under that newspaper, but you knew it wouldn’t be ‘good’ and it would embarrass the hell out of you. As long as you turned red, it ‘worked.’ Always there to help with a question, a problem, or just to give you a hug when the world didn’t seem to be going your way. If it were not for Courtney (and my brother-in-law) I would never have taken my love of photography to the next level. His patience and guidance will mean the world to me always. I will truly miss the fun times, the learning times, and even the quiet times I spent with my ‘Tatoe,’ that’s what I called him. He was always there when anyone needed a friend, and I know in my heart he still is and always will be. Rest in peace my brown, round, ready to get down hunk of friend. I’ll miss your advice, hugs and cheeks, but YOU will never be forgotten. The world lost one of the best.